I’ve struggled to create some work for my licensing company, Wild Apple, that I think they will like. I have sketched out and discarded a number of ideas. Nothing seems creative enough or unique enough to stand out from the competition. I finally realized that I’m going about it the wrong way. Instead of trying to create something I think they will like, I should create something that I find enjoyment in making instead. Then if the paintings don’t meet their needs, at least I had fun creating something uniquely mine.
What art technique do I find fun to do? I’ve always loved scissor work. By that, I mean I can sit for hours cutting out intricate shapes out of paper. Many people might find this boring or tedious, but I think it is meditative and therapeutic. I just finished cutting out about 200 flowers and leaves and I’ve started painting them. I have no clear idea of where I’m going with them and how to incorporate them into my work. I’m going to take my advice and I just play around, enjoying myself and see where it leads.
“Pom Poms”, mixed media, 8″ x 8″.
I am beyond ready for spring to begin. This New York City winter has been long, cold, windy and just plain TOO LONG! I’m guessing I’m not the only one with the winter blues. I just sold this little painting to a friend who lives in the mountains of Colorado where I know her property is still under piles of snow. Hopefully hanging this in her home will make her spring come a little earlier.
I started with the idea to create a set of matching paintings with lots of 3D texture. I love the soft, white flowers of the dogwood tree but realized I would need a colored background to make the petals show in the paintings. I’ve documented my painting process below. I will flip-flop between the two paintings as I forgot to photograph them both at each stage, but you should get the general idea.
I start by painting a variety of stripes on watercolor paper (glued to cradled wooden panels) using acrylic paint.
Next I glue down strips of different Japanese papers. I love handmade Japanese papers (made with mulberry leaves, rice shaft, and other organic materials) because they add a unique, textural feel to my work. I also include some handprinted deli paper I made using my Gelli plate.
Now come the flowers. First I sketch in the compositions. Next, using Golden’s heavy molding gel, I spread on the petals with a palette knife. When the gel is dry, I sand off any sharp points.
I add in collage paper elements for the leaves and stems, painting some areas to give them more dimensionality. Finally, I add sheer cheesecloth for an unexpected touch and use colored pencils to create some delicate color in the white petals. The paintings are sealed using a clear acrylic medium, and then two layers of acrylic varnish to protect the paper.
Dogwood One, mixed media on cradled panel, 12″ x 12″
Dogwood Two, mixed media on cradled panel, 12″ x 12″
Here’s a side shot to better see the raised texture of the paintings.
I like to step back from time to time from creating my own paintings and learn something new from the exercise of copying another artist’s style. My paintings these days are very labor intensive with all the paper cutting and piecing I am doing. I’m looking for a method to help me speed things up by using larger, bold marks in my work. I recently came across the colorful paintings of Erin Fitzhugh Gregory and thought I would see what could be learned from painting in her loose, juicy style. Though I usually paint with acrylics, I switched to oil paints for these still lifes . It was fun trying to emulate her bold brushwork using thick, colorful paint. I struggled to capture Erin’s free, lively style where she represents a flower with just a handful of brushstrokes. Still, I did learn to focus on each brush stroke, getting it right the first time and then leaving it alone in its simplicity.
Of course these exercises aren’t for sale seeing as they are copies of another artist’s work. If you like them, you can buy your own Erin Fitzhugh Gregory original or canvas print at www.efgart.com.
A special thank you to Erin Fitzhugh Gregory for permission to post this blog topic.